In California, you cannot face an arrest or charges for wet reckless. Wet reckless is a plea bargain available for defendants battling driving under the influence (DUI) charges. You are charged with DUI under California Penal Code 23152 if you are arrested while driving with a blood alcohol content that exceeds 0.08%. When your general driving is impaired by alcohol or other drugs, you could also face these charges. 

Most people facing DUI charges opt to take the wet reckless plea bargain to avoid harsh penalties that accompany a DUI conviction. If you want a wet reckless plea deal for your drunk driving charges, help from a competent attorney is vital. At Bakersfield DUI Attorneys, we offer you legal guidance through your case to ensure you achieve a favorable outcome

Overview of DUI Wet Reckless in California

Wet reckless is not a crime for which you can be arrested. Wet reckless is offered as a plea for defendants facing drunk driving charges in California. Vehicle Code 23103 involves reckless driving with a notation that alcohol was involved. You are charged with DUI charges when arrested with a BAC of 0.08% or higher. Also, when you drive while impaired from alcohol or drugs, you face charges under VC 23152.

A conviction for drunk driving in California attracts severe legal consequences like jail time, fines, probation, or losing your driving privileges. Therefore, a deal that helps you avoid these penalties would be beneficial. With proper legal guidance and a strong defense, you can get your charges or penalties reduced.

Not all defendants of drunk driving charges have the privilege of securing a plea bargain. A reckless driving plea bargain is an agreement you make with the prosecutors, and all involved parties must agree. After the court approves the plea deal, you will plead guilty or no contest to driving recklessly, and in return, your DUI charges are dismissed. However, the court will still notify the Department of Motor Vehicle of your conviction.

Accepting or rejecting a wet reckless plea deal is a matter that requires guidance from your Bakersfield DUI attorney. If you have had a prior offense, a plea deal will not protect you from a penalty enhancement. This is because wet reckless is a priorable offense. However, the reduction of your DUI charges offers significant advantages.

Circumstances Under Which a Wet Reckless Plea Deal is Available

The prosecutor does not always offer you a plea bargain when you face DUI charges. The following are circumstances that could prompt the court to reduce your charges to wet reckless, which as less severe penalties and consequences:

Your BAC was Low

The blood alcohol content legal limit for operating a motor vehicle is 0.08% when using the standard driving license. DUI charges arise when alcohol in blood or breath tests exceed the stipulated limit. If it is proven that your BAC during the arrest was less than 0.08%, it could be easier to obtain a wet reckless plea deal.

You are a First Time DUI Offender

California DUI law is strict on repeat offenders. A prior DUI offense prompts an enhancement of penalties for subsequent violations within ten years. If you have a criminal record, the court would be reluctant to reduce your charges or penalties. However, for a first offense, you will have a better chance of securing a plea. 

Severe Faults in the Prosecutors Evidence

In your DUI criminal case, the prosecutor bears the burden of proving that your conduct was impaired or your BAC surpassed the legal limit. Sometimes, the prosecution lacks sufficient evidence to show you were drunk driving. With guidance from an attorney, you can present defenses that casts doubts in the evidence brought against you. The doubts will weaken the case against you and improve your chances of having your charges reduced to wet reckless.

Incorrect Administration of Tests During the Arrest

Evidence of your blood, breathe, and field sobriety tests are crucial in a California DUI case. There is always a protocol that needs to be followed when collecting evidence for your DUI case. When the right procedure is not followed, or your rights are violated when administering these tests, the outcome may be dismissed. Also, taking pre and post-arrest tests is voluntary. If you are coerced or forced into taking these tests, you can disregard the accuracy of the results. In such a case, the prosecutor can consider offering you a plea for wet reckless.

Advantages of Wet Reckless as a Plea to DUI

The benefits you accrue from obtaining a wet reckless plea deal for your DUI criminal case include:

  • Less time in jail

A wet reckless attracts a sentence of not more than 90 days. However, if you were to face a conviction for DUI, the offense is punishable by a six-month jail sentence for a first sentence and one year for repeat offenders. In most cases, first time offenders who secure the plea deal are not likely to spend a single day in jail. Instead, you may be sentenced to probation.

  • Lower Fines

The fines imposed after a conviction may total to $3,000 together with could imposed assessments. Fines for a reckless driving conviction are likely to be about half of what you pay after a DUI.

  • A Wet Reckless Driving Conviction Ensures Shorter Probation

Sometimes a DUI related conviction will not require defendants to serve a jail sentence. You may be sentenced to probation as an alternative to the jail sentence. Probation for a DUI conviction lasts between three to five years. When your charge is reduced to wet reckless, you serve probation for one or two years. Shorter probation will help you expunge your criminal record. The expungement of a criminal record helps ensure that it is not visible in your record and cannot be used to deny you a job opportunity.

  • No Compulsory License Suspension

The suspension of your driver’s license is one of the penalties that accompany a DUI conviction. A first offense DUI attracts a compulsory court-ordered suspension of your license for six months and two years for a second offense. Also, situations such as refusal to take the chemical tests or underage DUI will attract a one-year suspension.

When you face a reckless driving conviction, it will not trigger an automatic license suspension by the court. However, the court could order you to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle for six months. Even though the court will not automatically suspend your driving privileges, your conviction will be reported to the DMV, which might attempt to suspend your license.

  • Shorter Time in DUI School

A conviction for reckless driving requires you to attend DUI School for six weeks. If you have a prior conviction for wet reckless or DUI, the DUI School requirement increases to nine months. This period is significantly shorter than the three months for a first DUI and eighteen months for a repeat offense.

  • Installation of an IDD is Not Compulsory

Installation of an IID after a DUI conviction is compulsory. An ignition interlock device should be installed on the dashboard of your vehicle to monitor the level of alcohol in your breath as you are operating the vehicle. For a wet reckless, whether or not you should install the IID is at the court’s discretion.

  • Less Impact on your Social and Professional Life

Social stigma is associated with DUI convictions. When a potential employer discovers the conviction while checking your background, they may use the record to deny you a job. Also, a DUI conviction could trigger a loss of your professional license. One of the benefits of accepting a wet reckless plea deal is that the sentence will have less impact on your ability to obtain a job or apply for a professional license.

Disadvantages of a Wet Reckless Plea Bargain

A wet reckless lea is advantageous for defendants facing DUI. Unfortunately, the plea is treated the same as DUI in the following areas:

  1. Wet reckless is a priorable offense. A priorable offense is a crime whose past convictions affect the sentencing of subsequent offenses. If you face a DUI conviction within ten years of a wet reckless, the conviction will cause a sentence enhancement. Therefore, obtaining a wet reckless plea does not protect you from being viewed as a repeat offender.
  2. You receive two criminal points on your driving record after a conviction. Even when your DUI case is dismissed, and you are punished for wet reckless, you will receive two points on your record.
  3. The DMV could suspend your license. When you plead guilty or no contest for wet reckless, your license will not be automatically suspended by the court. However, when the DMV is notified of the conviction, they could limit your driving privileges. To avoid a suspension by the DMV, you are expected to request a hearing within ten days of your arrest. This hearing allows you to fight the suspension. Even though the court and DMV process do not affect each other’s outcomes, the plea could convince the DMV hearing officer to be lenient on you.
  4. A wet reckless conviction may be treated like DUI by motor vehicle insurance. After a conviction for drunk driving, your motor vehicle insurance will be notified. For this reason, the insurance company could increase your insurance premiums’ prices. Even when your charges are reduced to wet reckless , the insurance company may still treat it as a DUI.
  5. The conviction is discoverable in your background by potential employers. After a conviction in California, the criminal record becomes public. Most employers will do a background check on potential employees before considering them for a position. When a potential employer discovers a wet reckless conviction in your criminal record, they could investigate further and learn of the original DUI charge.

Penalties for a Wet Reckless Conviction

The penalties that accompany a wet reckless conviction are lighter compared to those of a DUI one. A first DUI conviction attracts a six-month jail sentence, up to five years of probation, and a six-month driver’s license suspension. If you accept the wet reckless plea deal, your DUI case is set aside, and instead, you are punished for reckless driving. With no prior DUI or wet reckless convictions, you can expect these penalties:

  • A jail sentence not exceeding 90 days
  • Mandatory probation for one to two years
  • Up to twelve hours of alcohol education

Even when you are a DUI repeat offender, taking the wet reckless plea deal is a good option. Pleading to a wet reckless could make the judge reduce the mandatory jail sentences.

Can I Expunge a Wet Reckless Criminal Record?

In California, relief is available for individuals who have a wet reckless conviction in their records. Under California PC 1203.4, you could petition to reopen your case and set aside the conviction. If the relief is granted, you will not have to deal with consequences of the conviction. Also, you can truthfully answer no when asked about DUI-related convictions. Expungement of your record will be available if you meet these requirements:

  1. Complete probation. This means that you serve the court-imposed probation while adhering to all the terms of probation. Wet reckless attracts a short probation period. 
  2. You should not be facing other criminal charges or on probation for another offense when you are applying for a relive.

Even though expunging your reckless driving records comes with many benefits, it cannot reverse a driver’s license suspension. Therefore, you need to schedule a DMV conviction and defend your license suspension as soon as you face the arrest.

Alternative Plea Bargains for a California DUI Charge

In a DUI case, plea bargains are deals you negotiate with the prosecutor as  alternatives to taking your case to the jury. The plea will involve either a sentence or charge reduction. Not all DUI defendants will get a plea bargain. You will need competent legal guidance to navigate the process. When you are offered the deal and accept it, you will plead guilty or no contest to a lesser charge. A DUI plea bargain has lesser legal consequences and less stigma as compared to drunk driving. Other DUI plea bargains you could explore other than wet reckless include:

Dry Reckless

Dry reckless charges arise when your drunk driving charges are reduced to reckless driving under California Vehicle code 23103 without involving alcohol or drugs. Reckless driving occurs when you operate a motor vehicle with disregard for other road users or property’s safety. The aspect of alcohol and driving attracts severe penalties for a DUI conviction. Therefore, when you accept a dry reckless plea bargain, there are significant advantages, including:

  • Unlike DUI and wet reckless, dry reckless is not a priorable offense. Therefore, there will be no DUI sentence enhancements for subsequent offenses. However, it is important to note that repeating a crime in California is punished harshly.
  • A dry reckless plea will only require you to serve a maximum of three months in jail in California. This sentence is significantly less than that of a drunk driving conviction.
  • When you take on the dry reckless plea deal, you will serve one to two years’ probation.
  • Your driver’s license will not be automatically suspended for a dry reckless. A conviction for DUI attracts a mandatory court imposed license suspension for six months. A prior wet reckless or drunk driving conviction could increase the period of suspension. Dry reckless does not attract a mandatory license suspension. However, the DMV makes the ultimate decision whether or not you will keep your driving privileges.

The difference between wet and dry reckless is that there is no alcohol notation in your conviction in a dry reckless. Also, the conviction will not be used to enhance subsequent offenses. Prosecutors are reluctant to offer a dry reckless plea for DUI defendants. The plea could be available if significant flaws in the evidence presented by the prosecution or your BAC did not exceed the legal limit. Therefore, seeking guidance from a knowledgeable DUI attorney is crucial in securing the dry reckless plea. 

Exhibition of Speed

California Vehicle Code 23109(c) defines an exhibition of speed as an act of driving a vehicle on the highway at a dangerously high speed. California law prohibits motorists from accelerating a vehicle to make an impression or show off. When you face drunk driving charges, you can acquire a plea bargain for an exhibition of speed. Exhibition of speed may be a better option compared to wet and dry reckless. However, the circumstances of your case determine whether excessive speed applies as a DUI charge reduction for you.

The exhibition of speed is charged as an infraction or misdemeanor. As a misdemeanor, the exhibition of speed is punishable by informal probation, a ninety-day jail sentence, and fines that do not exceed $500. An infraction, on the other hand, attracts a $250 fine. When compared to drunk driving, the penalties for the exhibition of speed are much lighter. The court cannot order a suspension or revocation of your driver’s license for the exhibition of speed.

Sine exhibition of speed is a less serious offense; the prosecution does not often agree to it. There is no guarantee that a DUI defendant will acquire a Plea bargain for their charges. However, with guidance from a competent attorney, you can find flaws in the evidence brought against you to increase your chances of securing the charge reduction.

Drinking Alcohol in a Vehicle

California law makes it an offense for a driver or passenger to take an alcoholic beverage in the car while on a public road. However, drinking alcohol in a vehicle will not attract much stigma and penalties as compared to a drunk driving conviction. Therefore, if you are facing DUI charges, you can seek to have your charges reduced to taking alcohol in the vehicle.

Drinking in a motor vehicle is an infraction under California law. The penalties you face for this offense is a fine not exceeding two hundred and fifty dollars. A plea bargain for drinking alcohol is available when the prosecutor’s case is weak, and there is no solid evidence that you were operating a vehicle. You could disregard the accuracy of the prosecutor’s evidence on the results of your chemical tests. The results of blood and breath tests are a significant piece of evidence in a drunk driving case. Therefore, if your BAC was not 0.08% or higher, there could be a reasonable doubt in the drunk driving situation.

Traffic Infractions

Sometimes, prosecutors could offer a traffic infraction or a moving violation as a plea to a DUI case. Such a reduction is offered when the prosecutor is confident that the DUI charges against you cannot stick. Moving violations are not criminal and are only punishable by a fine. If you are hoping to have your DUI charges reduced to a traffic infraction,legal guidance is crucial.    

Find a DUI Defense Attorney Near Me

The drunk driving laws of California are complicated. The laws seek to harshly punish individuals who operate a vehicle while under drug or alcohol influence or with a BAC that exceeds the legal limit. DUI laws are challenging to understand for an average person, especially if you don’t have legal experience.

When you accept wet reckless as a plea to your criminal case, you may face lesser jail time, fines, and license suspension. Sometimes, wet reckless is the best plea bargain you can use when battling DUI charges. Therefore, competent legal guidance would go a long way if you are in this situation.

At Bakersfield DUI Attorneys, we work diligently to ensure that you understand all your options so that you can make an informed decision. We serve clients facing DUI charges in Bakersfield, CA, to ensure they avoid harsh penalties that accompany drunk driving and related charges. Contact us today at 661-215-5660 for legal counsel and representation.